Female Gender During The Dada Movement

August 14 2017 | By Meredith Mendelsohn for Artsy
The Women of Dada, from Hannah Höch to Beatrice Wood

“Dada doubts everything,” wrote the poet-performer and Dada founding member Tristan Tzara in 1920. Born in a Zürich nightclub in 1916 as an all-out mutiny against World War I and the social and political climate that fueled it, Dada remains one of the most anarchistic cultural movements of all time.

But while Dada had no problem questioning authority, meaning, reality, and everything else related to what they saw as a bourgeois Western world, its practitioners rarely, if ever, cast doubt on conventional gender roles and behaviors. Even if the social conservatism that yielded such inequality was disdained, women were the second sex.

For a long time, women who identified with Dada as visual artists, poets, or performers (or often all three) drew more attention as caretakers, muses, or lovers than collaborators or independent artists. One of the rare mentions Dada legend Hannah Höch received in her male peers’ accounts of the era was reportedly a nod to her talent at providing sandwiches, beer, and coffee during tough times.

But more recently, as art historians and curators have shined a brighter light on this electrifying period of creative rebellion, it has become clear that women were active artmaking participants in Dada’s spaces, from cafes and salons to specialty magazines and exhibitions. Here are eight female artists who made vital contributions to the movement.

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